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Reported Cases of Sexual Assault in Military Rise

Since 2002, the Miles Foundation — a private, nonprofit organization that tracks sexual assault within the armed forces — has received 976 reports of sexual assault in the Central Command Area of Responsibility, which includes Iraq and Afghanistan.

Christine Hansen, executive director of the foundation, says the group is seeing a steady upward trend in the number of reported cases of sexual assault — increases of 10 percent to 15 percent each quarter. The figures are higher than those reported by the Department of Defense, she says, because the Miles Foundation provides private and confidential services to women, making it more likely for them to report incidents of sexual assault.

Among the organization's findings, Hansen says, are reports from female service members of cases of gang rape and rape involving serial offenders. She says that the most predominant type of assault is acquaintance or date rape, which in the military is termed "offender-known rape."

The commanders of alleged assailants have a spectrum of disciplinary responses: from zero response to a criminal-justice proceeding within the military, or court martial. But Hansen says her group has found that the predominant response is that of administrative action, such as a letter of reprimand in a personnel file or forfeiture of pay and allowances.

"We do not see that the predominant response is that of a criminal-justice response leading to court-martial proceedings," Hansen says.

Many of the women who have been assaulted "desperately try to maintain their career in the military," Hansen says. She estimates that less than one-third of the women tracked by the Miles Foundation have been able to do so.

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